Owner Profile: In Over Their Head Ignoramus

15 Jun


Having done little to no research before obtaining a dog, the The In-Over-Their-Head Ignoramus (IOTHI) now finds themselves with a dog that they are woefully unprepared for.  These individuals likely chose a dog based on appearance or on movies/books that portrayed certain breeds, and have no idea what they are actually in for. While this is never good for a particular breed of dog, sometimes through their own good nature it all works out okay*. Dogs like Golden Retrievers, Collies, and most German Shepherds show a remarkable resilience in this kind of relationship mainly due to their willingness to please no matter how stupid the request. In some of the more independent minded breeds or more sensitive (read: prone to neuroses) breeds, this relationship will consistently turn into something inside of a “Die Hard” movie, complete with explosions and heavily accented German.

It is important to note that most IOTHIs fall into one of two subtypes:

Type 1:  These individuals realize soon after getting the dog that they are in over their head and step up to the challenge.  These are the kinds of people, who as a breeder, you would want your puppies to go to as their second dog.  Type 1 IOTHIs, upon realizing they are so far over their heads they will drown and/or be eaten by their creature, tend to take on training and socialization as a crusade.

Complete with pimp outfits.

Type 2:  Oy.  These are the ones you have to watch out for.  These are the people that usually end up tying their dog up in the yard or surrendering it to the shelter when they can no longer deal with it.  These owners are how seemingly rare breeds end up in shelters. Oddly, these are also often the repeat offenders. The Malinois was too much? Well, surely a Dutch Shepherd will work out better… only after dumping the Malinois, of course.

*The dog may be fat, under-stimulated, neurotic, bored, and untrained, but it’s probably not going to kill anyone/anything and/or be taken to be put down in a five year timespan.

Breeds Owned:

While the IOTHI doesn’t seem to own a particular breed, they do own breeds that fall in to two archetypes. They either own a herding breed that requires an insane amount of excercise (while being mostly sedentary creatures themselves) or they own incredibly rare and usually aggressive breeds. We can only assume they get these breeds (usually imports) due to some inescapable language barrier where “No” means “Yes” and “completely inexperienced means “give me that one who is trying to gnaw through steel”.

Potnoodle once saw this on a late night program on NatGeo when she was like… twelve. Yet, through a simple google search she found it. At least GOOGLE a breed before you buy it , dumbass. Be sure to watch to the end for a classic IOTHI.

Skill Level:

In reality, low. In many of their own minds, at least when they first get the dog, quite high.   Thankfully, most IOTHI are humbled by their dogs pretty quickly, realizing that they have no idea what they are doing.  The deciding factor in skill level over time, however, is whether they are a Type 1 or Type 2.  Type 1s will step up to the challenge and increase their knowledge and skills and have a good shot at ending up being an appropriate owner, while Type 2s continue to muddle through dog ownership mostly being totally oblivious to how unskilled they are and how much they are not meeting their dog’s needs.   We should also note, that there are also those IOTHIs who truly begin to believe over time that are dog experts of the highest caliber. They also aren’t shy about their “prowess”, and pass out bad advice like poop-scented business cards.

Smells like… the dog eats beneful.

Common Locations:

At the dog park with a ridiculously inappropriate dog. At training clubs, being avoided by all of the people with common sense. At breed specific events, gathering with the other idiots that own breeds they are ridiculously under-qualified for.

We’re guessing at least 1/6th are IOTHI.

Catch Phrases:  

“So I shouldn’t take my Fila to the dog park?”, “I can only take my 8 month old Border Collie on a 15 minute walk per day.  That should be enough, right?” “Why is my dog bred to bite livestock into submission trying to bite my ankles!”

Anecdotal Evidence: 

   Around the same time I got Mr. T, a neighbor (early 20s college student) came home with a German Wirehaired Pointer puppy from a local breeder.   I was honestly quite shocked, because I had literally never seen this kid stumble out of his apartment any earlier than noon.  I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt and thought that maybe the dog would give him a reason to rise earlier and actually leave his apartment for a reason other than scoring weed.  However, it didn’t take long to realize that this guy was in way over his head, had no clue, and had no intention of getting a clue.  Every time we saw them (which wasn’t a lot) the puppy was a complete spaz, who clearly wasn’t getting enough socialization, exercise, or stimulation.  Apparently this kid missed the memo that said that pointers can be rather willful, are powerful and energetic, and can become bored and hard to manage without enough exercise.   About 6 months after bringing home the dog, the owner made a rare appearance outside (sans dog), and informed me that he had sent the dog back to the breeder because he wouldn’t stop chewing his couch, tearing holes in the carpet, breaking things, and so on.  He told me that the dog was just ‘wired wrong’, taking absolutely no responsibility for not having met the dogs needs in the slightest.  I was actually relieved when he said the dog had gone back, because this kid had NO idea how to raise any dog, let alone one with high energy.  I didn’t see the kid for another few months or so, which wasn’t entirely surprising, but when I did finally run into him, I was in for quite a shock.  Yep, I ran into him and his new imported German Shepherd, who only responded to commands in German.  Seriously.  The kid carried around a notecard with all the commands on it (Platz!  Platz, you dumbass!!).  This dog was a whole helluva lot of animal, and I was shocked that anyone would have given him this dog in the first place, but I guess having rich parents with fat wallets will get you far these days.  By the time I moved away about a year later, the dog had changed from a well-trained dog (due to pre-import training) to a complete maniac who completely ruled his owner’s life.  It’s now been three years since I last saw them, but I would be incredibly surprised if he still has this dog…and not at all surprised if he is now dabbling in Tibetan Mastiffs.

Fang: Have I ever mentioned the Craigslist Fila? No? Alright then, that’s a story. Filas (or Brazilian Mastiffs for the rest of us) are not what you’d call a beginner’s dog. In fact they fall under the category of ‘Probably shouldn’t be owned by someone lacking a sugar plantation and a quirky lack of concern over human life’. These are serious serious dogs within one registry* their extreme dislike of anything they were not raised with (Called ojeriza) has been likened to genetic mental illness. It’s xenophobia with teeth. So, you ask yourself, why one earth wouldn’t I want one of these actually man-eaters on my cul de sac? I really hate the neighbor kids on my lawn. The mail-lady has been gaining weight recently and a fast jog would do her some good. I’ve always wanted to see a pony-sized dent in my neighbor’s BMW when he blocks me in. To even be aware of this would require research, and in the case of **Pooper, that was clearly not the case.

Brazil: It’s where you want to be. Also, we’re bringing back the gratuitous shirtless man pictures. We missed those.

I am not ashamed to admit I tend to read Craigslist. As a hobby it beats accordion and I can usually find things to mock on the blog. I did, however, in the ‘Pets’ section notice a post which caught my eye. I’ll save you the amazing details but basically these people were in search of the man who sold them a Fila off of the aforementioned website.  I filed this information away in my head like a good little weirdo and thought nothing more of it. A month later my boss got a phone call about a dog who was creating issues at home. It was… you guessed it, a Fila! I of course was ridiculously excited. My taste for potential mayhem is only outpaced by my love of Indian food and this situation had the potential to be better than Naan (No, it didn’t. Nothing is better than naan). I begged to tag along and was appeased and the entire ride to the client’s house had me bouncing in my seat. The first question out of my mouth to these haggard people of course was where they got the dog. “Craigslist” was their somewhat embarrassed reply. They had picked up the puppy in a parking lot after reading roughly five words about the whole transaction. “Protective” “Good with kids” “$250”. Pooper of course was kind of a back-yard-bred breed typical dog. He was knocking over strange kids who came to visit and growling in their face. He was running across the street to “greet” the neighbor with barking, growling and some more charging for good measure. He also pulled on the leash which was neither here nor there.

Quick, get the spoons and soup tourine. This is a big one.

At some point they at least had the grace to look embarrassed admitting they had finally read about the breed on ‘the Google’ and were shocked at what they’re acquired. After the training session we have heard from them periodically. Pooper luckily seems to be a mild-mannered if still rude dog and he’s missed the extremes popular in his breed. His owners are what I’d call a Type 1.5. Still totally over their head but not into the training enough to really commit, but Pooper’s generally stupid nature has given them that leeway.

Free dawg. Protection 4 U. May ate ur gardeners. Srs. Replies onlee.

*The sketchy registry where a dog can’t be registered as an adult unless it actually tries to eat a judge.

**It’s not even to protect the owners. The dog was really just a shitter. Also his name rhymes with Pooper. I’ll give you one guess.

Potnoodle: My local feed-store is a pretty nifty place. Self serve dog wash, western wear, good quality dog food, and everything in between. It also allows the employees to bring their well behaved dogs to work. There was a girl that worked there that had a really nice little terrier mix that came to work with her every day. Unfortunately, she didn’t feel safe when she locked up at night so she decided to buy a Giant Schnauzer. It was a lovely little puppy, then it hit it’s teen years. She had decided to do some “personal protection” training with a local trainer who … isn’t the best. After the third time her Giant Schnauzer completed an unprompted bark and hold on someone trying on wranglers in the dressing room… she was fired.

Honestly, maybe the dog was just a fashion critic.

Do you know any In-Over-Their-Head-Ignoramuses?  Anyone care to own up to being one?  Share below!

22 Responses to “Owner Profile: In Over Their Head Ignoramus”

  1. Exasperated June 15, 2013 at 4:16 am #

    I knew some people who were looking for a new dog. They wanted a dog that was quiet, relatively calm, good with other animals, and didn’t require much exercise….so they got a Jack Russell terrier from a pet store. They said they got it because they saw the one on the TV Show Frasier and that dog lived in an apartment so he must be pretty calm and quiet. Also he is so well-behaved on the show! *headdesk* Needless to say their dog is a fairly typical terrier–unpredictably dog aggressive, extremely prey-driven toward small animals and cats, hyper, and barks a lot. He also has snapped at small children. 😦

    • Pat F. June 16, 2013 at 4:24 pm #

      Jack Russells are adorable, smart critters; but way too much dog for the unwary; and sometimes too much dog even for normal dog people. I have had dogs for years; and would not choose a Jack Russell. Oh, they saw Eddie on “Frasier” – what a great way to pick a breed; seeing a superbly trained dog on a fictional television representation. I feel bad for the JRT you mentioned; he didn’t ask to be so sloppily bred and carelessly sold to unprepared and ignorant people.

      • vicki April 17, 2015 at 5:13 am #

        I love them better than any other dog buy Yes, they are too hyper. They are very smart and the one i use to have was very clean and never went to bathroom in my house.

    • houndsofgrey June 16, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

      I remember when that show was on, hearing about the upset from JRT breeders that the show misrepresented the breed *to the detriment of the dogs*. I saw this piece on TV and thought, “Yeah, but who’s dumb enough to pick a dog just because it looks like the dog on that one TV show they like to watch?”… I must have too much faith in humanity >.<

      • Kirsten Houseknecht November 26, 2013 at 7:25 pm #

        Wishbone tv show… a magical dog (JR) with his kids… great show… but a LOT of families got Jrs after that

  2. houndsofgrey June 16, 2013 at 8:34 pm #

    My friend who doesn’t own any pets right now – and hasn’t owned anything without a cage in her adult life – occasionally complains to me that I make her feel like she’d be a terrible pet owner and should never get a dog, especially when she brings up how much she’d like a puppy. I would point her at this article, but now I’ve commented on it and she would be mortified. Oh, well… back to discouraging her from getting anything more challenging than a house plant. Maybe she can get a kitty when the kids are older…

  3. Taryn June 17, 2013 at 6:31 pm #

    I have a neighbor in the next court whose headed-to-college-in-the-fall son wanted a puppy. His dad let his kid pick whatever breed it was he had his eye on. The kid told his dad the dog he chose wouldn’t get very big, and doesn’t shed much. That dog turned out to be a male Akita! This family is not the type to go to classes and as such never did any socializing or basic obedience. The kid is now away at college and this 90 pound Akita can be seen dragging the dad around the block, and lunging at every dog it sees. If it gets a fifteen minute walk I would be amazed! I dread the day it hanks the leash out of this man’s hands. And I know the neighboring parents of small kids are scared shitless.

    Before the puppy even arrived (shipped from some breeder on the west coast), I tried explaining to him what kind of dog they were getting, but the man just couldn’t say No to his kid or even ask him to pick a slightly more manageable breed. In the right hands, I am sure it would be a lovely dog, but not in a household with no training and no exercise!

    • KaD June 23, 2013 at 2:34 am #

      You’d think the Father would have enough sense to muzzle the dog in public BEFORE someone gets hurt but it never seems to happen that way.

  4. H. Houlahan June 18, 2013 at 2:05 am #

    You really, really have to check out the BREEDER of the dog featured in that National Geographic segment.

    Start at my old blog post here: http://cynography.blogspot.com/2009/07/lethal-this.html

    And be sure to read the whole comment thread on the YesBiscuit blog and the owner rating system on the Smartdogs blog, both linked in that post.

    Because these owners — they buy a dog *somewhere.*

  5. Lindsey June 22, 2013 at 3:14 am #

    I feel like this post describs every young guy (it is invariably a young guy) that bought a husky because “they’re so cool looking! Look at those eyes”

  6. KaD June 22, 2013 at 4:06 pm #

    That guy with the Caucasian is clearly a danger to everyone in the neighborhood-he’s not even strong enough to control it. Why should people be allowed to breed dogs like that and hand them off to people in residential neighborhoods?

    • KaD June 23, 2013 at 2:37 am #

      That isn’t a pet-it’s a biological weapon. I’d rather live next to someone with an AK. Hell, I’d BUY an AK if I lived on a street with that. This is why we don’t need breeders of animals like that in the US. Who, exactly, is the right person for a 180 pound dog with a serious hate for people? It’s hard for me to imagine anyone.

      • Kirsten Houseknecht November 26, 2013 at 7:40 pm #

        the dogs do not generally hate people.
        they are incredibly territorial, however.

        like most dogs they come in a range.. mine is VERY social (for the breed) which means she will most likely sniff your hand and ignore you if she is introduced.

        off her property she is a very calm dog, ON her property not so much. and thats the way they are.

        advised for people who are strong personalities, capable of explaining to the dog from an early age that they are in charge.
        and you have to socialize them.

        also great for livestock guards of course

    • Arwen July 30, 2013 at 8:57 pm #

      KaD, I mentioned this in the past but my mom was given a Central Asian Shepherd (Caucasian dog) by a guy who probably wanted to get rid of it so he would not get into any trouble. The dog likes me so I can pet him and let him smell my hand. But I will state this video is true in stating these are the kind of dogs that would kick someones ass if they see them as a threat. They were bred to protect sheep from wolves, lions, etc. I do not advise anyone to just get a dog only for a guard dog since they are a liability. To be honest if you just have a dog that barks that would be a deterrent enough since no one planning on breaking in wants their presence known. The best thing you can do is own a gun and be prepared to defend yourself if someone breaks in. I do not trust pit bulls at all but I would not try to mess with someone that owns a Caucasian Shepherd or a Rottweiler. And if you get a dog bred to guard as a puppy start introducing him to humans so he can begin to read them. I even gotten to the point I do not advise anyone getting a dog from the shelter unless you now the dog for certain (same thing with craigslist and pet adds).

      • KaD February 7, 2015 at 4:48 am #

        Many experts feel that a simple burglar alarm is far safer, less expensive and better protection than a dog. Furthermore, it presents less risk of financial and career ruin. It’s safer for several reasons:
        •Burglars often steal or even kill the dogs.
        •An alarm system will also provide protection against fire.
        •A really good alarm system can be hooked into the police department, fire department and a security company, all of which will send professional people to your home in the event of a problem.
        •Most dramatically, out of 177 people killed by dogs, only 1 was a burglar, but 7 out of 10 were kids.

        A burglar alarm can involve only a one-time cost, although alarms that make phone calls have monthly fees and possibly per-use fees too. Dogs have to be fed and taken to the veterinarian. Just as important, you have to spend time with your dog every day, but not your burglar alarm. A burglar alarm presents no possibility of financial ruin or career ruin, but a dog does. If your dog bites someone on the face, the losses can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Your insurance might not be sufficient to cover such losses. In fact, some people who own dogs do not have insurance at all — which is irresponsible, especially when considering that a dog bite victim will often be a friend or family member. If faced with having to pay a large amount of damages out of your own pocket, you have only two choices, both of which are life-changing:
        •You either will declare bankruptcy (Most times a dog bite settlement will NOT be dischargeable in bankruptcy court), or you will have to pay off a judgment for what might be the rest of your life.

  7. Putme Incharge June 24, 2013 at 3:06 pm #

    Fabulous topic!

    I have two good friends who are Veterinarians.
    I got this funny e mail from one about a month ago during her work day.

    I will add the practice she is at is in a lovely neighborhood with an extremely low crime rate.

    I send her some information on the breed, including that in a show judges are not to touch the dog, “And if it attacks the judge, such a reaction must not be considered a fault, but only a confirmation of its temperament.”

    After that information she mentioned that they only walk the dog around midnight to avoid running into anyone on the street.

    Last but not least they have one of two CO’s in the practice as well.


    Just got to see an incredibly aggressive Fila Brasiliero intact male 1 year old 130# dog…. on a harness of course!

    Thankfully had THREE men with him to control him. I just peered at him from across the room….

    Gave them a few suggestions for training/control but was told it “was the breed” …but I think at least one of my suggestions may have helped a bit…may be the breed, but training and better control methods will still help!

    • KaD July 3, 2013 at 4:19 am #

      That and a Sharps .45-70 in case the dog pulls loose.

    • Julie Deschenes June 29, 2015 at 7:59 am #

      I have a Fila who is under my control at all times. He was extensively socialized and attended obedience classes. He weighs in at 115 and I am heavier than him. He is expected to guard the home and car, protect the cats (all indoor). He is so very attached to us that he does what we ask him to. Outside of our property, he knows to behave, since it is not his territory. I also taught him to politely meet strangers. The breeder did not keep him, as he did not have interest in attacking any judge, plus he wasn’t as tall as the standard demanded. He is now 11 and a half years old, survived bloat, and has been a loving, devoted family member. We do not entertain, seldom have visitors and have had guardian breeds before, thus he fit right in. There are negatives and positives in every breed. Friends and cousins who have met him enjoy his company. The boss is me.

  8. AgileGSD September 4, 2013 at 10:11 pm #

    Had a family want me to let their 12 year old kid bring a Fila to 4H training once. First showed up with the dog when he was about 6 months old at a parade we were doing. I’m petting dog thinking…hmm, is this some sort of cane corso mix…head looks sort of houndy….I can’t quite place what I think this dog looks like. I’m then proudly told he is a Brazilian Mastiff. My mind then starts trying to think what a Brazilian Mastiff is, while I look at the dog. Then I remember….”oh….OH!…he’s a Fila?”. Well, I’m told that’s the other name for them…as I pull my hand away and step back slowly. This family always had the biggest most macho breeds they could get, always way too big, too strong and having a not remotely appropriate temperament for their child to bring to 4H. The dog the kid brought prior to the Fila? An unsocialized, intact (because they wanted to breed him of course) American Bulldog that ended up biting the kid in the face. Prior to the bite, the dog obsessively humped the wife and daughter of the family if dad wasn’t around. Lovely animal.

    • AD January 13, 2015 at 8:43 pm #

      HA! you sound like the many people who pet my dog and claim how friendly, calm and well behaved he is and then they ask what kind of dog he is. I say “pit bull” and they do exactly what you did, pull their hand away and back up slowly.

      • KaD January 22, 2020 at 1:42 am #

        Having fought a pit bull who tried to disembowel my collie I wouldn’t get within sight of one if I could avoid it. Of course the dog was in a house with children and ‘had never shown aggression before.

  9. Kirsten Houseknecht November 26, 2013 at 7:33 pm #

    like many breeds with a “macho /tough dog” reputation, they are in demand with people i wouldn’t sell a stuffed toy to. when the gang bangers thugs and etc got tired of the pitt bulls for not being “mean enough” (because they are not) they moved on to Cane Corso and Filas…
    and once the shows aired about Caucasian Ovcharka some of them moved on to that breed.

    i own a CO.
    shhe was at the local shelter after her prior owners got into trouble for being excactly the kind of people who want “the toughest dog on the block” and we were encouraged to adopt her because
    1. i recognized the breed
    2. we had a kennel / leash/ bowls big enough having just lost our large GSD

    i knew what i was getting into, although i was a bit concerned about a few things. we made a point of socializing her to an extreme (she went to the vets office once a week to be weighed and get treats, so now she loves the vets)
    and to be honest we got lucky
    she is a VERY mellow example of the breed.

    The CO is a great dog, absolutely wonderful with kids, their family, livestock (if raised for it) and i am a big fan of the entire breed.
    that doesnt make them good dogs for most people.

    Off topic: i cannot COUNT how many idiots try to rush up and “hug the fuzzy” if i go out with her. for some reason fluffy dogs attract that… and that is a recipe for a dog bite from ANY breed.

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